In the past week, General Motors has garnered media coverage for their decision to close plants all over America, leaving hundreds of workers jobless right before the holidays.
A less covered story is the automobile giants’ history of failing to address racist incidents, reports USA Today.
GM is currently being sued by several black workers for neglecting to address a series of racist aggressions. One man, Mark Edwards, found a noose in his work station.
“I was startled, really startled by it,” Edwards told USA Today. “I couldn’t believe someone did that. I couldn’t understand who in my work area disliked me that much or had that much hatred to hang a noose by my job.”
Edwards worked for GM for decades. Coworkers routinely harassed him with racial slurs, he said, which he reported to his managers and his union reps. Yet, no effective action was taken, he said.
Edwards and eight other black workers have launched a lawsuit against GM. The lawsuit details several incidents when nooses were found, as well as the following racist actions:
White employees calling black employees “boy.”
A female black employee being called a crude, racist slur.
Swastikas painted and scratched on restroom stalls.
Stick figures with nooses around their necks drawn on restroom stalls.
White workers wore shirts under their coveralls with visible Nazi symbols on them.
Black employees told to be careful because a white employee’s “daddy was in the Ku Klan Klan.”
White workers telling black workers to go back to Africa.
“Whites Only” signs hung on restroom stall doors and written on walls outside the men’s restroom.
A white supervisor, at a meeting, saying, “What’s the big deal about nooses? There was never a black person who was lynched that didn’t deserve it.” The supervisor was not disciplined, the lawsuit said.
In response to the lawsuit, GM claimed to be taking steps to improve their work environment. “Discrimination and harassment are not acceptable and in stark contrast to how we expect people to show up at work,” GM said in a statement. “General Motors is taking this matter seriously and addressing it through the appropriate court process.”